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Last week I came across a great thought-provoking article by Carrie Hill on Search Engine Land outlining a few underutilised ways of implementing schema.
Much of the article was technical common sense until I read the words: Schema Now, Not Later.
Anyone that has read my previous posts on Econsultancy (especially those on the Knowledge Graph) will know of my love of all things structured, which is why it was such a joy to hear others lauding the virtues of schema.org mark-up.
The digital industry is continually evolving and as such it's vital that we marketers adapt and evolve our strategies accordingly. With search becoming more and more competitive (and at times, volatile) it makes sense to begin diversifying your tactics to give your brand a wider presence within the most visited channel in the world.
Schemas can help you today
Schema.org burst onto the search scene in June 2011, created by Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex as a way of creating a single, standard set of schemas that they could all use to give meaning to HTML documents.
Since then schema,org has been utilised to offer up a number of rich snippets by the search engines such as:
- and many more (for a nice rundown checkout this deck by Nichola Stott).
These rich snippets are designed to give users a sense of what’s on the page in question, helping to improve CTR by giving more information on why it might be relevant to their query.
Not only is this a fantastic way of driving new traffic from organic search but it also allows us to move away from the “race to number 1”. If I can rank well with rich snippets, I’m going to get a large part of search share purely because of the enhanced listings.
‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’
Google has made it very clear that schema is something that you can expect to see more of in the future saying: “Not every type of information in schema.org will be surfaced in search results but over time you can expect that more data will be used in more ways”.
We have also seen other search engines such as Bing and Yandex step up their displaying of rich snippets, but that’s not the end of the line.
Last month Google announced that, using schema.org mark-up, you will now be able to influence the logo displayed in the Knowledge Graph ahead of rumours that business panels are on their way.
That may seem pretty minor but when coupled with advancements such as Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant, you begin to see the power that mark-up could have.
Google Now currently uses the Knowledge Graph to populate data on entities and relationships - is it such a jump to allow businesses to mark-up location, a map and contact details of their offices to allow this Google agent to provide intuitive answers to users?
James Carson recently wrote a fantastic piece about how big data is changing the way we should be looking at search.
From signed in search data, Google+ and it's new sign-in authentication to Android usage, Google has the potential to make use of much more data than we give them credit for, so why would you not provide as much semantic data about your website as you possibly could to help them determine relevancy?
Working in search, it is our responsibility to advise clients and employers on future-facing strategies.
As such I believe that implementing relevant structured mark-up ahead of the curve is essential to gaining competitive advantage over those only planning from algorithm update to update.
Are you advising your clients to mark-up with structured data? How do you see advancements in this area going? Have you had success with rich snippets in reaching business goals? Let me know in the comments...